I’m Gareth Hanrahan, a writer and game designer. My latest major bit of writing is the third novel in my Black Iron Legacy fantasy series, The Broken God. With my roleplaying game designer hat on, I do a lot of work for Pelgrane Press; my next major release for them will probably be The Borellus Connection, a 1970s spies-vs-mythos-vs-the drug trade. Track what I’m doing at garhanrahan.com, or follow me on twitter for interesting retweets and the occasional amusing typo.
Where did you come from and where are you going?
Right now, I feel like I’m trying to get back to where I came from – we’re rebuilding the family house that I inherited from my mother, and the construction got shut down due to covid, so I’ve spent most of the last year just waiting to find a foothold again. Everything’s loops these days. It’s hard to feel like I’m going anywhere.
What preoccupies your mind these days?
A two-year-old chaos muppet means most of my days are spent thinking “why is that wall sticky? Where are there books all over the floor? What’s she climbing on now?” It’s hard to think deep meaningful thoughts when you’re on the floor saying “which one is the green block? Which one is the red block?” And then any other available thoughtspace is taken up with work stuff – there are bits of half a dozen projects running around my head.
Name a favourite taste, touch, sound, sight and smell.
Taste. Chai latte. Horribly indulgent.
Touch. Tapping the end of my newish umbrella off a stone, or using it to steady myself in the mud when walking in the woods. I got a big umbrella a few months ago – nothing special, but it’s the sort of thing a grown-up would carry. I’m aware that I’m 43 and have three kids and a mortgage and am much too old to be saying things like ‘grown-up’, but I don’t feel at all comfortable with being an adult, or at faking adulthood. I suspect it’s because my career is profoundly unserious, coupled with being a rather serious and (literally) sober teenager/twenty-something. I don’t feel like I’ve changed especially in the last twenty-five years; I’m sure I must have, but it’s not inwardly apparent. Anyway, having an umbrella that I can poke into the mud feels, on some level, like a thing that a forty-something person would possess, and that’s satisfying and solid to touch. It’d like I’m grounding myself in middle age in the hopes my mind catches up.
Sound. The gap between the “I’ve been here” and “silent all these years” in Tori Amos’ Silent All These Years. There’s a little intake of breath there, a little moment of silence, that still gets me.
Sight. During lockdown, I’ve been walking around the local area a lot. We’re right on the edge of Cork harbour here, and there are lots of little islands and peninsulas. It’d oddly satisfying to line up landmarks, or to be able to look across the water and see the spot where you were yesterday. It’s like doing a giant crossword puzzle. So, I like looking from the south edge of Haulbowline park, and seeing all at once the national marine school, the Martello tower on the hilltop, the green hump of Currabinny, the edge of Crosshaven, the old Fort at the harbour mouth, and the opening to the Atlantic beyond.
Smell. The smell of the stairwell in the science building at University College Cork. It’s hooked directly to a memory of the summer before I went to college there – the feeling of stepping into an undiscovered future and growing up, of possibility and discovery.
Describe one of your most vivid dreams or nightmares
I rarely remember my dreams, and they’re never especially vivid.
I do remember a dream my mother had, shortly after my great-uncle MIchael passed away. She dreamed that Michael called in for a visit, as he often did. In the dream, she knew he was dead, while he did not – he was a ghost or revenant, and she was terrified of what would happen if she told him. At the same time, she didn’t know how to bring it up in conversation.
Something about that combination of existential dread and mild social awkwardness – I’m sorry to interrupt, but do you know you’re dead – sticks with me.
Have you ever had an uncanny experience?
No. I wish I had.
How does your sense of place affect the way you express yourself?
I don’t know. I can talk about how a sense of place affects the way I express a character in fiction, or how my sense of a particular place is connected to some aspect of myself, but I don’t know how to address the question as applied to myself in general.
What has particularly touched or inspired you recently?
A few weeks ago, a parcel got misdelivered to a neighbour, and I went down and collected it. We ended up having a lovely conversation about mythology, and writing, and farming, and families, and coronavirus, and travel, and our backgrounds, and the local area – clearly, both of us had been cooped up with the same few people for months due to lockdown, and welcomed the opportunity to make a new connection. It was a thoroughly nice experience, made all the better because I wasn’t expecting it.
The Broken God – the third book of the Black Iron Legacy Series (a Wyrd Daze favourite) is out now.